We did not know our father was a super hero at first. To us, Molly and Ryan his children, he was simply Dad— a father that did not yell nor swear, was a gentleman who shined his shoes, wore a tie every day, never missed a practice or rehearsal, coached basketball, and loved to laugh with his family.
What we grew to see was a man that never said no to a person in need, loved to teach, would not tolerate anyone unkind to children, was an avid reader, fly fisherman, champion skier, patriot, Duncan Yo-Yo champion, he loved aviation, built models, and served others through his profession.
We glimpsed his special ability during the City Golf Championship. On Ingersoll’s hole #2, amid nature’s jail bars, Casey asked Ryan for the 3 wood. He sent the Titleist on a low bullet ride through a tiny gap where it climbed like a jet and drew, yes it drew, until it lay on the green. He made the eagle putt. His smooth swing, always from the inside, earned him the nickname ‘Reverend Silk’. He won the Pike’s Peak Open in 1957 and led his college golf team. He beat a few notables along the way like Hale Irwin and Dale Douglass. They said, “no one can beat Casey’s wedge”.
Casey was born in Denver, Colorado to Karl and Rachel Brauns. His father, Denver’s city attorney who on December 8, 1941, left home to become a Navy Lt. Commander and took Rachel with him. Casey moved in with his grandparents—Assoc. Justice George A. and Maude Luxford—until he became a proud Buffalo at the University of Colorado. He was very excited last season with the triumphant return of the Thundering Heard.
With his business degree, he opened the Casey Brauns Agency and worked for Blue Cross but not before he met his true love, Sheila Ryan, from Lincoln, Nebraska. She was the strawberry blonde coed at Loretto Heights College and the Catholic girl he dreamed of marrying. Their 63 year union is the stuff of fairy tales with each considering it their sacred duty to get the other to heaven. Casey said often his wife was his life.
Casey traded the Rockies he loved for the Atlantic ocean when he moved the family to Miami. Although a successful group representative for MassMutual, we remember the Packmaster that brought the 1972 Dolphins to the Blue and Gold banquet and finagled his pack into the National Jamboree. This was the time he introduced us to Earl Nightengale and taught us about “the dipper and the bucket” (Google it!).
Transferred to Chicago as a Vice-President, he chose the Rock River as his final home. He loved Rockford! In 1987, he named the company he founded Rockford Consulting & Brokerage. His company is an ongoing testament to his unwavering values of honesty, excellence, and service.
An industry leader, he worked in a small group on the East Coast developing a little thing we now call Medicare. In Chicago, he pioneered the concept of self-funded employee benefit plans. At Rock Valley College he taught the CEBS designation for area professionals in concert with Wharton School of Business.
A fierce test came 26 years ago when he received the gift of life, a new liver, at the Mayo Clinic. A special thank you to Dr. John Poterucha, Rochester, a true and brilliant healer. We also thank the great people of Holy Family Parish. When things were bleak, he called to say, “Don’t worry. I can feel people praying for me.” Casey recognized this new lease on life and felt grateful every day.
Holy Family Parish was a cornerstone. He met his friends, the “Turtles”, all men of faith and honor. The much ballyhooed “The Happening” that he co-chaired put him on stage to sing and dance.
Casey’s adoration for his family was unbounded. As an only child, he enjoyed Sheila’s extended family, the many talented aunts, uncles, and cousins who embraced him. His grandchildren— Casey, Kaleigh Marie, and Nolan were truly his pride, joy, and excitement. He relished in their intellect, achievements, and insights. His daughter-in-law, Sue, held a special place in his heart as he often said what a good mother she is and admired her “head for business”. A special recognition for the support from our friend, Dave Lickteig, whom Casey loved as family.
He valued being a Rockford Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, Chairman of End Polio Now, OSF SAMC Foundation Honorary Board, MassMutual Field Advisory, teaching Project Business with Bob McLaughlin, sponsoring homes in Haiti, and outstanding service award from Rockford Park District.
On his last day, 32,403 after Casey’s birth, the monitors showed he had more time, his hands squeezing ours seemed to agree, but as Fr. Lange prayed these words of the Apostolic Pardon, “May He open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy.” Casey closed his eyes. Saint Joseph was there.
Casey found these things to be true:
Always stay below the hole.
Never cut class.
Remember, nothing happens until someone sells something.
With faith, anything is possible; never give up the lifeline!
Donations in his honor, consider the Poor Clare Nuns of Rockford, St. Vincent DePaul, and Rockford Rescue Mission.
Visitation will be held from 4:30 p.m. until time of a Rosary at 5:45 p.m. on Friday, February 2, 2024 at Fitzgerald Funeral Home & Crematory, 1860 S. Mulford Rd. Rockford, IL 61108. Celebration of the Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 3, 2024 at Holy Family Catholic Church, 4401 Highcrest Rd. Rockford, IL 61107 with visitation from 9:30 a.m. until time of Mass. The burial will conclude in St. Mary/St. James Catholic Cemetery, Rockford, IL.
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